Estética Furnishing, Sambit Satpathy‘s 25 years of experience around textile industries speaks volumes about his expertise and knowledge. After working in Raymonds, Siyaram, Guilford, Reliance Industry Limited, and Bharat Vijay Mills, he established Estética Furnishing with a vision to deliver the excellent quality products to the people of Odisha. He is also the secretary of India’s textile association (Odisha) and a guest faculty in NIFT, Bhubaneshwar.
Interview times had a wonderful conversation with him over his ideals, visions, and how Odisha deserves a better experience in the furnishing sector.
“If the price, quality, and relationship are maintained, it cannot be matched with anything else.”, he quips.
1. Your 25 years of experience speaks volume about your capabilities and work. Can you brief us about yourself?
I embarked on my career in 1994 with Raymond’s limited after completing my engineering in Textile from Amravati University. In 1998 I joined Guilford textiles and worked for two years in Mumbai before going to the UK for almost 3.5 years. Later I came back to Mumbai and joined Siyaram Furnishing as their export head. After some time, I became a business head for technical textiles for Bharat Vijay Mills. From 2008-2017, I was designated as a technical textile division in Ahmedabad at Reliance Industry Limited.
2. What motivated you to come up with Estética Furnishing?
If you look at my career trajectory, I worked in production experience, production planning, marketing, sales through business development, and business head. Hence, over time, I experienced the complete cycle of textile & furnishing business. Since I always wanted to do something of my own, when reliance promoted me to Mumbai, the change of my expertise prompted me to start my own venture and then journey of Estetica Furnishing started.
I chose my core expertise and surveyed the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar segment’s streets for one year and decided to have my furnishing showroom in Odisha’s heart. Our research came across a few significant points: Neither the seller nor the buyer understands a thing about furnishing fabrics. There was only a transactional relationship between the buyer and the seller. People are not exposed to good quality fabrics, and consumers are considered to be more price-sensitive than quality sensitive.
A fabric might cost between 100-600 INR in the local market, and people would pick 600 INR one, but they are unfamiliar with the fabrics which cost 1500-2000 INR. The quality was missing from the market. So we decided to capitalise on the market need.
So, these were reasons which motivated us to have our showroom here. After understanding the market, we were convinced to open our furnishing showroom here, whose objectives would be completely different. I also knew it would take time to make people aware and understand the new good range of fabrics they are missing out, but we were confident.
3. How is Estética furnishing different from its existing competitors?
We wanted to emphasise more on consulting than selling. Most of our competitors don’t understand the fabric; they sell polyester as cotton or curtain fabric as the sofa. Therefore, we introduced consulting to deliver exact knowledge to our consumers about the fabrics we are offering. We often tell them, buy from anywhere but buy the right products. The parameters that make us unique are: We keep the right quality product with a brand. We do not sell local, copied products. I handpick every fabric, and I check the quality parameters before selling it to the customers.
Moreover, I believe our staff has to be very efficient, and for that, our store in charge is a NIFT graduate. She understands the fabrics as I do. We jointly trained our salespeople. We have a check-in team that checks the deliverable products when they come back from stitching through almost 20 parameters like stitching line, design, alignment, the yarn, etc. We have customer feedback, which I handle personally and guarantee satisfaction if any disparity arises.
4. How would you target customer who have low budget?
Our prime focus is not the brands but the quality. As compared to the local market, our prices might be higher because we do not offer substandard products with locally copied products, unlike them. Our brand works hard on designs & quality, but the local industry copies the designs and fails to deliver the same as soon as they enter the market. On the other hand, we guarantee the best quality and the right experience for our customers.
Besides, I would say not all brands are costly. Every brand has its range, which fits in the pocket of a middle class. In case if some customers still go out of budget, we are also providing a consumer loan facility at 0% interest
5. How is Estética Furnishing reaching to its potential customer?
We spent a considerable amount when we started Estetica furnishing in the advertisement to determine which promotion is the most effective. We wanted to let the customer know we are not a showroom but a studio; we do not have catalogues but hand-on experience on the fabrics.
In 2018, we sponsored colossal events in Bhubaneswar, advertised in theatres for two months, announced in the print media, and worked on Facebook and Instagram promotion. From tying up with local FM to organising events in various societies, we have spent almost 15-18 lacs to find out which type of advertisement is more porous and effective.
Through the months, we understood there is no alternative for word of mouth. A customer who has experienced the right product becomes the best person to advertise our product. To encourage recommendations, we also started the referral discounts. We also have offered our studio to a popular channel talk show where they host local celebrities. Apart from this, we also invite local socialites to hold chit chat sessions at our studio.
6. How has COVID-19 affected your business? How are you coping with the challenges?
Our product lies in the range of luxury, not a necessity. While this is a negative point, the positive aspect of it is if people stay at home, they need a change of interior; if you are confined to your home for 4-6 months, you start thinking to change the wallpapers, the curtains, etc. Positive thinking has helped us in combating the challenges. For 2-3 months, we were shut down due to pandemic, but we initiated some new processes like people need not come to our store. If somebody wants our products, we have a team ready with a video call. We interact with customers to understand what they need; we send videos or pictures on their WhatsApp. If they want to purchase anything, our salesperson takes care of every precaution, visit their home for further dealings.
Gradually, the projects are picking the pace, and the business has started gaining momentum. This year we are considering only six months. Our gov projects are pending due to pandemic, but we are sure we will begin soon.
7. Are you planning to expand beyond Bhubaneshwar?
Our highly dedicated team ensures satisfaction to our customers, and for that, we train them and work hard on every parameter. Therefore currently, we are not looking to expand it beyond Odisha because we do not want to rush into decisions. But yes, we might open a few more studios in the near future, mainly in Odisha.
By Tushant Baranwal and Yogita Malhotra